- Plan ahead. At the time of publishing (Nov. 30) you still have all of December to get your tasks done. Grab a note pad, and make a list of all of the things you need to accomplish before the holiday. Then look at your calendar and set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That will help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. Make sure to line up help for party preparation and cleanup. Perhaps most important, seek input from those you will share the holidays with, and be flexible. Communicate what is important to each person, what must be done, and what can wait until another year or time.
- Be realistic. The holidays don't have to be perfect or just like last year. As families change and grow, traditions and rituals often change as well. Choose a few to hold on to, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can't come to your house, find new ways to celebrate together, such as sharing pictures, sending emails or finding time to video-chat.
- Stick to a budget. Before you go gift and food shopping, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then stick to your budget. Don't try to buy happiness with an avalanche of gifts. Instead, try these alternatives: donate to a charity in someone's name, give homemade gifts, or start a family gift exchange. Again, seek input from those you share the holidays with, and agree to a plan.
Your best chance of not becoming overwhelmed is to develop a strategy that will work for you, and stick to it. Check back on Wednesday December 5th for the next installment and more suggestions!